Ukraine war: Risks of spillover ‘remain all too real’, Security Council hears
Some of the most intense bombardments in the war in Ukraine have occurred in recent days, UN political affairs chief Rosemary DiCarlo told the Security Council on Wednesday, warning against the risk of escalation and spillover into other countries.
Russian missiles and drones have rained down on several cities, including the capital, Kyiv, she reported, destroying or damaging homes and severely disrupting critical services.
“I must say it again: attacks targeting civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited under international humanitarian law,” she stressed.
‘No end in sight’
Meanwhile, military dynamics on the ground continue to evolve.
Ms. DiCarlo recalled that over the past week, the southern port city of Kherson returned to Ukrainian Government control following the withdrawal of Russian troops. Heavy battles also continue in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
“Indeed, there is no end in sight to the war. As long as it continues, the risks of potentially catastrophic spillover remain all too real,” she said.
“Yesterday’s incident in Poland near the Ukrainian border was a frightening reminder of the absolute need to prevent any further escalation.”
UN expresses condolences
Two people were killed on Tuesday when a missile struck a grain silo in the tiny Polish village of Przewodow.
The country’s President, Andrzej Duda, said the explosion was most likely caused by a Ukrainian air defense missile, according to international media reports.
Ms. DiCarlo joined UN Secretary-General António Guterres in extending condolences to the families of the victims.
The political affairs chief feared the recent barrages in Ukraine will only add to the horrific toll the war has already exacted.
More than 16,630 civilian casualties have been recorded in the nine months of fighting, with 6,557 deaths, according to the UN human rights office, OHCHR.
The ongoing bombardment has already damaged roughly 40 per cent of the country’s power-generation capacity. Kyiv has been hardest hit, she said, as most parts of the city are now without electricity for 12 hours a day.
“As the Ukrainian Government focuses on repairing damaged infrastructure, the United Nations has made it a priority to ensure that the most vulnerable receive winter supplies and services,” she told ambassadors.
So far, more than 185,000 people have been provided with essential basic winter supplies.
Humanitarian partners are also setting up “heating points” near frontlines, and more than 500 generators are being distributed to hospitals, clinics and other priority institutions.
Constraints to aid delivery
Although humanitarian access has resumed in Kherson and other areas now back under Ukrainian Government control, it is still extremely difficult to reach people in areas of the east and south held by the Russian military and across the front line.
“Mine contamination - particularly in areas close to the front or where control has recently shifted – are putting more lives at risk, impeding the movement of civilians and hampering humanitarian efforts,” said Ms. DiCarlo.
She reminded the parties of their obligation to facilitate humanitarian access, in line with international law.
Ms. DiCarlo also provided the Council with an update on human rights and other concerns.
Highlighting the situation of children, she said more than 400 boys and girls have been killed in the war, and many more have been injured, lost their relatives, or been forced to flee their homes.
Nearly 300 are considered missing, according to Ukrainian Government sources.
“There are also disturbing reports of forced transfers of children, including of some under institutionalized care, to Russian-occupied territory or to the Russian Federation,” she further stated.
“OHCHR has documented several individual cases, including of unaccompanied children, that appear to amount to deportations to the Russian Federation – in violation of international humanitarian law.”
‘Blame Russia for everything’
Addressing the incident in Poland, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya told the chamber that Ukraine had initially blamed his country for the missile strike.
“I cannot fail to mention that Ukrainian air defence systems have long had a bad reputation,” he said, referring to the downing of a Russian civilian plane over the Black Sea in October 2001, and the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 some 13 years later.
“And over the past few months, we regularly see footage about the consequence of Ukrainian air defence missiles falling on residential homes which were used to conceal these systems,” he added.
Mr. Nebenzya said Russia long ago stopped being surprised by attempts to blame the country for everything.
“And so today, in spite of clear evidence of Ukrainian-Polish provocation, many representatives of Western countries have stated to the effect that even if the missiles were launched by Ukraine, it's still Russia who's to blame for destroying critical infrastructure.”
Ukraine supports investigation
Ukrainian Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya reported that 10 million people have been affected by emergency blackouts following Russian missile attacks on energy facilities and other civilian infrastructure in at least 11 regions across his country.
Turning to Tuesday’s “tragic incident”, he expressed his country’s solidarity with Poland.
Mr. Kyslytsya said Ukraine supports a full and transparent investigation to establish the facts and stands ready to cooperate with Poland in this regard.
“At the same time, it is clear that the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, with regular missile terror as one of its core elements, remains the only root cause of violence and human suffering in Ukraine and beyond,” he told the Council.
“As soon as Russia is unable to continue its war, security in the region will immediately be restored.”